Industry Update
Opinion Article 2 August 2017

Virtual Reality: The Ultimate Tourism Sales Tool?

By Angella Eidell, Senior Account Executive at Sunrise Advertising

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Virtual reality is growing tremendously with more consumers seeking out this technology and more advertisers jumping on board. I recently had the opportunity to test out the HTC Vive through a demo by a multimedia production company, Videobred, and it instantly inspired me. Working with clients in the travel and tourism industry, I had dozens of ideas running through my head (and I'm not even on the creative team!). In fact, I can't think of a better tool to attract new visitors to your destination.

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People's time and money are extremely limited so they want to know that their next trip will provide everything they expect… and more. Maybe it's adventure, or quality family time, or the best meal they've ever had. More likely, it's a combination of all of those things. If a destination is looking to entice a visitor to come, then VR is the next best thing to actually being there. And, if there are perceptions that need to be changed, you can take those head on.

There are a few VR tourism campaigns that have caught my eye. Every Kid in Park was created to ensure all kids had the opportunity to see America's wonders and historic parks and their VR experience features virtual tours of national parks. Then there's a Visit Ireland campaign with several 360 degree videos created to showcase the Emerald Isle as an adventurous place to visit. Visit Houston is also a great example that increased time on their website significantly, as well as increased conversion rate.

Research has already shown that consumers are excited by virtual reality and perceptions of companies who use VR are very favorable. Consumers are also more likely to complete the buying cycle when experiencing VR from companies who use this technology. Consumers spend more time engaging with VR content as well.

I'm excited to see where VR goes. Right now, picture quality could use some improvement and the only other sense is audio. But imagine the possibilities of a complete VR travel experience for the consumer from planning to booking to sharing the experience:

VR Planning: 360-degree videos of attractions, experiences, restaurants and so on.

VR Reviews: Actual guests talk about what a hotel or destination is really like, with accompanying VR video as they speak.

VR Hotel Tours and Booking: Visitors could walk into different room types to see the view, size of the room and furnishings.

VR Flight Booking: Check out a potential flight by walking through the plane to see how big or small it actually is and try out the seat you want. This gives airlines an opportunity to up-sell business/first class for more room!

VR Rental Car Experience: Walk through the rental car lot and be able to get in the car choices to have a driver's seat POV. A compact car may not look like it's worth saving a few bucks anymore.

Or, imagine a more immersive experience with taste or smell as you're sitting (virtually) in a restaurant. Or, weather simulation when you can feel the sun or a light breeze as you virtually lay on a beach.

It's a rapidly evolving technology and it's only going to get better.

If a typical picture is worth a thousand words, just imagine what VR's value could be.

Angella Eidell

Angella Eidell is Senior Account Executive at Sunrise Advertising in Cincinnati. She grew up on the move in a military family, so it’s no surprise that Angella is a quick learner and natural relationship builder. She honed her advertising skills working on travel and tourism brands. At Sunrise, Angella ensures our clients’ needs are always met and their expectations exceeded.

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